Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sausage Skewers and Corn

There are days that just don't end. Especially really crappy ones. They just go on and on and on...

I have a friend that, on those kinds of days, on the way home from work would buy the most expensive ingredients he could find at Terry's or Santi's or perhaps Bacchus Epicerie and, with the last milligram of his strength, toil over a complicated home cooked gourmet masterpiece so that he may enjoy the last seconds of the otherwise crappy day in peace- sated and a wee bit tipsy, preferably drunk, with his favorite bottle of fine wine.

I am rather like that, too. Except that instead of the Epicerie, I would go to S&R. Instead of foie gras, I'd grab a bag of sausages and corn. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, I'll spend a couple of minutes. Instead of wine, Coke- if I'm lucky, if not, water is fine.

This is for the wicked tired, famished, and busy.

Because at the end of the day, we still have to eat.

Sausage Skewers

Ingredients

2 Veal bratwurst
2 Schublig
2 medium red onion, quartered
2 tomato, halved
1 big red and/or green bell pepper, seeds removed and cut in 4 equal squares
Olive oil, for drizzling

4 bamboo skewers

Procedure

Pre-heat stove top cast iron grill.

Slice each veal bratwurst and schublig horizontally into 4 equal pieces.

Alternately thread tomato, onion, and bell pepper with sausages.

Drizzle skewered sausages with olive oil and grill for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Serve with steamed sweet corn on the cob.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lechon Cebu by A.R.G.'s


Well into my ninth month of not eating pork, my friend, RJ opens his very own Cebu Lechon store and restaurant- A.R.G.'s Lechon Cebu. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Before my abstinence from pork, I was a very avid consumer of lechon. One of my fondest food memories growing up was "Lechon Sunday" when my mom would bring home a kilo of freshly roasted lechon personally delivered to her clinic by her suki who made sure she gets the best parts with lots and lots of crispy golden skin. The lechon came with their signature liver sauce, wonderfully sweet and tangy and compliments the lechon superbly.

This time around, I had to find out how RJ's lechon tastes from third parties. We were there for the soft opening a week ago and we had an amazing lechon feast (Well, at least my friends did). My friends were all praises for the Lechon Cebu and unfortunately for me, all I could do was watch and squirm in envy while they enjoyed their meal.

Lechon Cebu is different from the usual lechon that I grew up with in that it is not served with liver sauce, the meat flavorful in itself from the infusion of a mix of traditional native spices. Robin, the self-confessed food purist (it just means he's not too much for sauces and overpowering seasonings) adores the unique and distinct flavor of the Lechon Cebu, along with its crispy skin, and tender meat. On the other end of the "sauce-no sauce spectrum", Mossy did not even look for any liver sauce to go with her lechon, that is how good it was, she said. Mossy, who had the good fortune of getting first dibs on the lechon straight from the pit on her third visit at A.R.G.'s, raved about the super crunchy skin.

A.R.G.'s flew in litsoneros straight from Cebu to keep their Cebu Lechon 100% authentic. Not to mention their lechon is made from only native pork (not the pink ones). RJ would have it no other way.

Their lechon is roasted over white hot coals by their expert listoneros onsite in a soil pit, shielded from the elements by tempered glass. Roasting is done everyday so all you get is fresh-roasted lechon each time. To complete the experience, A.R.G.'s serve puso (rice steamed in a heart-shaped weave of young coconut leaves) to go with the Cebu Lechon. The beautiful puso is skillfully crafted by hand by one of A.R.G.'s expert puso maker, also a Cebuano.

1 kilo of A.R.G.'s Lechon Cebu costs Php520, which is good for up to 6 people (1/2 kilo is Php260 and 1/4 kilo is Php130). Their puso, approximately a cup of rice, is Php12 each. They also serve Lechon Paksiw (Php250 per serving, good for 4-5 people), fried danggit and dried pusit (both Php160 per serving, good for 3-4 people). The menu is a work and progress and RJ sees a lot more items in the future.

It's a good thing A.R.G.'s also serve danggit and dried pusit, otherwise, I would have lost my mind when we were there. Worst part is, I'm sure we'll be back there a lot more times.

For orders and reservations, call RJ Barcelona at (0920)9073917. A.R.G.'s is located at 50E President's Avenue, Sucat, Paranaque City.


In Cebu, you can find A.R.G.'s at Sta. Catalina St., San Vicente Village, Mandaue, Cebu City.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cajun Garlic Prawns

Tiger Prawns

There was a time in my life that the only two ways that I knew how shrimps were cooked, no matter how big they were, were as halabos or sinigang. My mother, bless her heart, whose 4-decade love affair with the best and the freshest Philippine produce that the local public market could offer, had a very limited shrimp and prawn recipe repertoire. While halabos and sinigang are delicious traditional recipes in their own right, too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. I just knew I had to put a stop to that when I grew old enough to cook.

Arguably, making sinigang or halabos out of gigantic, beautiful, fresh tiger prawns is like putting inordinate amounts of cream to your cup of Blue Mountain coffee. It is, to put it dramatically, a great disservice to a magnificent animal. Or to borrow my good friend Leo's words, dishonoring the animal who gave up its life so that you may be nourished.

A couple of days ago, my mother brought home the most amazing tiger prawns I have ever seen in my life. They were a foot long, with heads two inches in diameter. More importantly, they were fresh as could be.

While I prepped the prawns, I swore on their lifeless exoskeletoned body that I will not let them go out as halabos or sinigang. My Cajun Garlic Prawn recipe is a flavorful take on the halabos na hipon recipe. It's just as quick and easy and, despite the festive cajun flair, stays true to the natural flavor of the shrimp.

Cajun Garlic Prawns

Ingredients

4 large prawns, butterflied and deveined
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
dash of salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp McCormick Grill Mates Cajun Seasoning
1 cup water

Procedure

In a pan, melt butter in medium heat. Saute garlic until golden brown. Season with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning. Remove from heat.

Arrange prawns back side up in a large wok. In the split made by deveining the shrimp, spoon in the sauted garlic. Drizzle remaining melted butter over the prawns. Pour in water. Cover and steam over medium heat for about 15 minutes.


*Top photo taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ-50, the rest with a Nokia E75

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Black Angus Burger at Charlie's Grind and Grill

Dinner last night was spent fingers-deep in burger grease at Charlie's Grind and Grill and this girl ain't complaining.

Black Angus Burger and Fresh Fries (Php195)

I've been craving for a hardcore beef burger ever since I decided at the beginning of the week that all I was going to have for lunch all week is two slices of Pan de Manila's wheat bread (which is delicious in itself, don't get me wrong). So when my friends asked to meet up in Kapitolyo for a late dinner of black Angus beef burger I could not contain my joy.

Vegetable Sticks with Blue Cheese Dressing (Php100)

To keep up with the pretense of eating healthy though, I ordered a basket of Veggie Sticks. So what if they are dipped in disproportionate amounts of blue cheese dressing? And I've always considered french fries as a vegetable dish. Charlie's has fantastic fresh fries.

Charlie's is a quirky little burger joint, located in Pasig (but not in the more flashy side of the city) just beside a car wash, serving food which rivals the menu of a fancy schmancy restaurant and exotic beers with unpronounceable names.

The quirkiness extends all the way to its men's restroom where the urinal shaped as a gaping red lipsticked mouth awaits. I kid you not. If you are a Dexter fan, it might interest you to know that among the food offerings scribbled in their chalkboard include pulled pork sandwich and key lime pie.

It won't be easy to find if you don't know exactly where it is, but it is quietly making waves among burger afficionados and adventurous foodies. And when you do find the place, parking means parking on the street and there's always a long line of cars in the vicinity.

It is almost always packed, especially on the weekends with orders rolling in until midnight. If that is not testament to the "goodness" of this burger, I don't know what is.

Charlie's Grind and Grill is located at 16 East Kapitolyo Drive, Bgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City.

Business hours is 11am to 1am (last call for orders is 12:30am).

For pre-order or pick-up, you may call 5010137 or (0939) 4504758.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Walnut Muffins by Gumbo


At Gumbo, a couple of nights ago, we were offered a morsel of walnut muffins to taste. It's a new product that Gumbo is introducing and it's being offered at their bakery section.

At first, we were hesitant to try the muffins, but only because we were already stuffed silly over a dinner of New York Steak, Chicken Jambalaya, Baked Artichoke Dip, and pork chops, oh and lest I forget, their fabulous fabulous bottomless brewed ice tea. But when we finally agreed, upon the effective prodding of one of Gumbo's people, we were hooked. (Fortunately, the wise adage, "there is always room for dessert", proved true once again.)

We got a 6-piece box (Php150) presumably to keep in the fridge to stave off the munchies over a span of a few days but when we got home, every single one of them was gone in a matter of hours.

Gumbo's walnut muffin was wonderfully moist, utterly buttery, and stuffed with perfectly toasted walnuts. It is delicious in it's simplicity. Gumbo's bakers get a pat on the back from me for this one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Empire Macarons at the Baker's Dozen


Only recently that I found out that the Baker's Dozen at the Power Plant mall is back on again. Since September, actually, so it's probably not news to a lot of people. The Baker's Dozen is held every weekend at Level P1, Concourse Area Center Aisles, which lights up beautifully with showcases of delectable baked delights. The good news is, it runs until December.

Empire Macarons
Php350/dozen

The last time I was there, I got myself a box of a dozen pretty and colorful macarons from Empire. I got White Chocolate, Chocolate, Mocha, Cookies&Cream, Pistachio, and Triple Chocolate. Other available flavors are Lemon, Blueberry, Strawberry, Hazelnut, Caramel, and Mango Chocolate. While every flavor is wonderful, the Cookies&Cream is my favorite among the bunch.

Empire Macarons
Php30/piece

Aside from macarons, Empire also offers Cheesecake Balls. I have never seen or heard about cheesecake balls so it was pretty new to me. Flavors are Original Chocolate, Black&White, Strawberry White Chocolate, Walnut Chunk, Mocha, Sprinkles, Almond Chunk, Chocolate Chip, Caramel, Cookies&Cream. Unfortunately, I was not able to get some of them but they look cute and I must admit, the concept does sound yummy. Definitely next time I go there.

A good thing to know about Empire is that they do party, wedding, and corporate giveaways. And they deliver for free if you're getting at least 15 boxes. (Php150 delivery fee for Quezon City, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Makati, Taguig, and Pasay areas, if you want less than 15 boxes delivered.)


Empire contact numbers:
(0917) 8861190; (02)4671995. Look for Georgia

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fresh Food from Refreshers (The Gourmet Diner)

On our way home from Tagaytay a couple of weeks ago, we stopped by Refreshers for lunch. It's a very cozy and welcoming rest stop for that long trek home. They offer a wide variety of soups, hot and cold sandwiches, pasta, pizza, and a whole lot more.

Refreshers Burger (Php275)

Tagaytay Longganiza (Php240)

Low Calorie Cheesecake

The signature lemonade, which they specially marked a must try, is something quite unique. It's ice blended and has a distinct flavor of fresh mint making it a wonderfully refreshing drink.

Signature Lemonade (Php85)

Refreshers is also a great place to buy pasalubong items for friends and family or simply some fresh organic produce for that home cooked gourmet meal you've been planning.

"Refreshers, The Gourmet Diner along Km. 52 Aguinaldo Highway in Silang, Cavite, started out of an idea that fresh produce be made more conveniently accessible to its market as ready-to-eat items. The Refreshers menu offers a sumptuous serving of what grows most abundant in the Gourmet farm - organically grown lettuce transformed into a wide variety of salads freshly prepared in tamper-proof packs, cold & hot sandwiches, pasta & pizza and Refreshers Signature Cooler made from a special blend of herbs and lemonade, a drink everyone must try. Refreshers also has a sundries store where Gourmet products such as coffee, tea, pasta sauces, salad dressings, dips, potted herbs and organic produce abound. Truly, Refreshers is Gourmet's gateway to healthy living - a place where eating healthy is living well." http://www.gourmet.com.ph/refresher-cafe/cafe

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